“O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love…”
“What’s in it for me“? is the true heart echo of most of humanity. Human love is contractual, transactional and ultimately not unconditional.
If one has achieved or come close to unconditionality, it is usually by progress through the following steps:
- Pure self-love: Where we all start. The individual is a pure user, a taker, lost to any true concept of love. All individuals as well as things exist for his/her benefit to be consumed on self, for self. Period.
- Love granted with a clear eye on some perceived payback: “I’ll give but I’m still in it for ME! You give me this and I’ll give you that”. Very much a contractual thing, a proposition. It has precious little of true love in it. Hitler loved this way. Jesus said even the Pharisees loved this way.
- Love granted for a non-perceived payback. “Okay, so I sacrifice, give, and no, I don’t expect this or that thing in return, just some return, somewhere“, be it ever so small — expectation of a pat on the back, a card of thanks, anything at all that gives recognition of the “love” or sacrifice. It has the roots of love and constitutes a small step away from pure contractualism.
- Love granted for a non-perceived payback from God. Here is a notable step forward in the pathway of true love in that it removes from the picture, the human element in the transaction. But transaction it still is. It may be an unselfconscious effort to buy something from God. God is not in the transaction business. All that was completed at the Cross – “It Stands Finished”
- Love granted purely because that’s what love does — it sacrifices, without an eye on return, or keeping one hand behind the back. The purest form of love — the love displayed fully on the Cross, and that which constitutes our vision, goal and desire.
The transfer from one level to another is usually the result of suffering with eyes open, or reflection. It is typically imperceptible to self, and would destroy itself by self-recognition.
If bitterness, vengeance, unforgiveness, grudge-bearing takes over at any point it will kill progress and send the whole thing downhill like falling off the rungs of a ladder.
“My secret heart is taught the truth that makes thy people free, A life of self-renouncing love is one of liberty” – Anna Laetitia Waring